March 2008 — Vol. 6, No. 3

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“If I acquire as a much as a stone it owns me because I will have to dust it.”
–Henry David Thoreau, American poet, author and philosopher

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Spring cleaning fast and easy It’s that time of year when you get the urge to fling open the windows to let in some sunshine and fresh air, right? And then you notice the dust and dirt that’s accumulated over the winter. Okay. A little spring cleaning may in order.

It helps to have a game plan. Plan A: Clean a room a day.
Always clean from top to bottom so you can vacuum or mop your way out the door. Plan B is to make a list of jobs – and then tackle them one by one.

It also helps to have the right tools because that’ll make the job go faster and easier. My favorite tool? Microfiber cloths. I call them miracle cloths. They’re like dirt magnets. Just wet them and squeeze dry. They’re great for mirrors because you get this amazing streak-free, lint-free shine. Throw away those old rags you’re using. . .now! Microfiber cloths are great for wiping fingerprints off chrome fixtures too and stainless steel appliances. When you’re done, just toss them in the wash and let them air dry.

There are some really great products on the market that utilize microfiber. OXO (www.oxo.com) makes an Extendable Duster with pivoting microfiber head – so you can clean ceiling fans, bookshelf tops, or the top of your refrigerator without having to stand on a chair or get a ladder. There’s also the OXO Double Duster with a rigid side for tough jobs like cleaning blinds and a flexible side for gently dusting delicate pieces. They also make an Under Duster too that bends to let you dust under furniture.

Now, if you really hate cleaning, I suggest you choose cleaning products with scents you love. Method (www.methodhome.com) makes a whole line of products that smell great – from lavender & juniper dryer cloths to freshen all your winter bedding before putting it away to almond furniture wipes to cucumber and grapefruit fragrances for the kitchen and bathroom. Believe me, these smells will make you want to clean your home.

I personally love wipes because they’re so quick and easy.
Just wipe and toss. There are cleaning wipes for everything from leather upholstery to countertops – even granite countertops. And I especially like Method wipes because they’re all biodegradable. Little tip here: I store the wipes containers upside down to keep them from drying out.

Finally, if you want to keep a room smelling fresh long after you’re done cleaning, check out the AromaRing from Method. I’ve got the Vanilla Apple scented AromaRing in my laundry room. Mmmmm.

By the way, did you know that March 23-29 is National Cleaning Week? Come on. Let’s get to it.

Next month: Recycling your way to an uncluttered home *************************************************
Survey Results: Are you on time? Last month I asked: Are you almost always on time, early, or late for meetings and appointments?

As promised, here are the results of that survey. . .

38.7% said: On time 36.6% said: Early 24.7% said: Late

I got some really interesting confessions. . .er, I mean responses to this question.

I confess that I used to always be late until I read Diana DeLonzor’s book, Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged. I highly recommend this book (www.neverbelateagain.com).

Like some of you, I was always trying to finish up that one last task or project before heading out the door and inevitably, it would take longer than I thought. Plus, I hated waiting (I thought of it as wasted time) so I would try to time my arrival so that I wouldn’t have to wait even one second except that I never allowed enough time to get where I was going (Diana calls that magical thinking).

But the real kicker for me? It honestly never occurred to me that my behavior was being perceived as rude. But of course it was! That realization was all it took for me to change. Now I am always early for meetings and appointments. I arrive confident, relaxed, and prepared rather than rushed, harried, and breathless. Funny thing is, now that I am always on time, it seems like everyone else is late!

New Survey: Your cleaning style How do you most often do your house cleaning: All at once Job by job or room by room A little here and there – sort of catch as catch can I delegate to other family members I have a housekeeper Other (please explain)

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” in the subject line and the letter that corresponds to your answer. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I love reading them!

As always, I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

Readers Write: Spring cleaning your car [I keep] a trash bag behind the driver’s seat, so that old gum, candy bar papers and so on are thrown away instantly.
Apart from that, I bought one of those extendable dust cleaners, which now sits in the glove compartment. On my way to work there are plenty of red traffic lights. That is the time to pull out the duster and clean the surfaces of the car in no time. Due to this method the dust gets no chance to be in the car for weeks and get sticky (so that it is real time consuming to remove it).

–Submitted by Swantje R., Germany

Write to win an autographed book! Do you have a really great organizing tip you would like to share with other readers? Or a question about an organizing challenge you have?

Send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with “Readers_Write” in the subject line.

If your question or tip is included in a future issue of this newsletter, I will send you a free autographed copy of my book, The One-Minute Cleaner Plain & Simple. Check it out at http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of email messages and it’s impossible for me to respond to them all. Please know that I do read them all and try to answer as many as I can.

Shameless Promotion: Speech! Speech! Do you need a dynamic speaker for an upcoming conference, meeting, workshop, or retreat? Perhaps your company would be interested in having an organization/productivity expert present to key staff members?

I’ve been hired to speak to the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, Business & Professional Women and The Flying Dentists Association (yes, flying dentists!). I’m booking engagements right now for Fall 2008 and beyond and would be happy to discuss your needs. For more information, contact donna@unclutter.com.

Speaking of speaking, I will be demonstrating simple organizing solutions and also signing books as part of the Grand Weekend at Fulton Ranch Towne Center Sunday, April 13 from 1-3pm in Chandler, Arizona. Details to follow in next month’s issue.

On Friday, March 14, set your VCR or DVR to tape Better, the nationally syndicated show that airs in 30 cities nationwide. I’ll be demonstrating fast and easy spring cleaning tips.

Phoenix, AZ KPHO/CBS 3 pm
Portland, OR KPTV/FOX 9 am
Hartford, CT WFSB/CFS 10 am
Kansas City, MO KSMO/MYTV 8 am
Milwaukee, WI WTMJ/NBC 3 pm
Nashville, TN WSMV/NBC 11 am
Greenville, SC WHNS/FOX 9 am
Las Vegas, NV KVVU/FOX 11 am
Fort Myers WFTX/FOX 11 am
Saginaw, MI WNEM/CBS 11 am
Chattanooga, TN WFLI/CW Noon
Springfield WSHM/CBS 10 am

If you miss me live, you can see the show online at http://www.Better.TV. Search for Donna Smallin spring cleaning.

On Wednesday, March 19 from 5-6 pm Eastern Time, tune in to an informative interview with Brad Swift and Lisa Abend, co-hosts of Living & Working on Purpose Wednesday at www.ExceptionalWisdomRadio.com.

Also online, you’ll find an article on “Teen tested vacation spots” (I provided the author with pre-vacation organizing tips) on TravelMuse.com http://alpha.travelmuse.com/articles/teen-friendly-destinations/3

On newsstands this month, look for an article on “Pro secrets for faster cleaning” in the March 17 issue of First for Women. Yup, I’m one of the pros.

There’s also a nice interview you might want to check out in the March 2008 issue of Allure in the Insiders’ Guide to Organization: How to manage your mail.

Got books? If you are looking for organizing tips, look for The One- Minute Organizer and Organizing Plain & Simple in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Storables stores.

For nitty-gritty cleaning tips and techniques, look for Cleaning Plain & Simple in your local bookstore. If they don’t have a copy, please ask them to order one! For quick tips, look for The One-Minute Cleaner, an abridged version of the big book that was released in February 2007.

If you feel a need to simplify your life, check out Unclutter Your Mind: 500 Ways to Focus on What’s Important.
Want a signed copy of one of my books? You can order directly from me: http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.